Archive for the pulp fiction Category
This September, Hard Case Crime will publish a new, original Jill Emerson novel, Getting Off. The cover, for maximum marketing, reads Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson, who in the 1960s-70s wrote lesbian novels for Midwood, erotic and mainstream stuff for Putnam and Arbor House.
This will also be the imprint’s first hardcover. Other titles have switched from mass market to trade paper.
We love Hard Case, but we wonder if this shift will work. The whole novelty and charm of the line was emulating vintage mass markets with the cover art, delivering books in the 40-60K word range like the old days, not these padded 80-120K word paperbacks that are now the market norm.
The market norm is also pushing the mass market trim size into memory. We have been seeing paperbacks in a size somewhere between the mass and the trade.
We wonder if readers may be annoyed that they have to fork out more money rather than the under ten bucks price you can get a mass market for. Trade paper and hardcovers will make Hard Case like every other line out there, and not unique, kind of the way Random House took away the uniqueness of Black Lizard by re-issuing everything in trade paper with covers that look like everyone else’s covers, and not the uniqueness that the Creative Arts Black Lizard editions have.
Is this not typical of all conglomerates? They buy out a company that is small and cool and has its own style and slowly make it generic. And we’re not talking just publishing — films, music, art, it happens across the board when a big company’s board thinks people want the same thing rather than something original, and grumble when sales diminish because the fans get bored.
Anyway, we are looking forward to Getting Off.
Yawdry and sordid from the get go — door to door salesman Frank “Dolly” Dillon knocks on a door not only looking to sell some wares, but find a fellow who owes the company bucks. He encounters a 70 year old lady who is willing to let her young niece have sex with him in exchange for a set of silverware. The set-up is the cover art on te original Lion Books edition, only the girl, Mona (was Lawrence Block influenced here, with his many Mona characters? Harry Whittington too?) does not have long flowing curly blond hair like the babe depicted, but messily chopped off hair.
When Frank, our narrator, takes Mona in a backroom, she immediately gets naked and he notices a bleeding welt on her. Mona is very submissive and he knows her old aunt has been whoring the girl out to salesmen and other men in exchange for material goods.
Frank is disgusted and he can’t even get himself to fuck her. He promises Mona that he will come back and save her from this life of sexual slavery. He has no idea how. He first has to deal with his boss, Staples, who is breathing down his neck, and his alcoholic wife, a former cigarette girl in a club he used to frequent in Chicago. Her name is Joyce. They get in a fight and she runs off; he goes to work the next day and Staples has discovered that he’s done some creative bookeeping and taken the company for more than $300. He’s arrested, and all he can think about is: what will poor Mona think when he doesn’t show uo?
Then get gets sprung by Mona, she pays his debt and he’s released. She has money — or, her aunt’s money, she stole it from a stash of money her aunt has. How much? One hundred grand.
Frank must have the money and the girl, and the only way to get both is to murder the old lady and frame someone for it — frame a dead beat immigrant handyman who owed Frank money on a a suit he didn’t make full payments on.
Of course, as in all noir tales like this, the murder doesn’t go exactly as planned, and things pop up, people get suspicious, like his wife who has seen the money and his boss who knows something is fishy…
Frank acts like he is smooth and knows what he is doing, but he’s actually a dupe, a fool, and a heel — or a fuck-up, and his fuck-ups lead to his evntualy downfall.
Any Jim Thompson is worth reading, and while this one has a few plot and logic flaws, who cares, it didn’t matter in 1954 and does not matter in 2011…A Hell of a Woman is a hell a read. (The same year, Thompson and Lion Books published A Swell-Looking Babe, which we will get to soon.)
Black Lizard revived the book in the 1980s with a nifty cover.
Then this one…
The Vintage trade ppbk edition isn’t that nifty…trying too hard to be b%w noir, another corny generic cover by uninspired art directors.
Before Block’s Matthew Scudder, there was Curt Cannon, a private eye with a severe drinking problem. His name later changed to … with the Ed McBain byline, published The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter of Blackboard Jungle fame) by Hard Case Crime — Cannon’s name changed to Matt Cordel. Seems Hunter was reluctant to have this old book reprinted, similar to Lawrence Block was with Grifter’s Game, but, like Block’s, critical and fan reception was positive. This is tough Manhunt-style, two-fisted hardboiled noir.
In fact, Cannon appeared in the first issue of Manhunt; there were four other stories, later collected in I Like ‘Em Tough.
In this nifty little hardboiled novel, Cordell lives on the streets in the Bowery, drinking his pain away until he passes out. An old friend, Johnny Bridges, tracks him down, needing Cordell’s help in the detective realm. Cordell has no interest, and reminds his buddy that his license was yanked after an unfortunate incident that occurred when he found his wife cheating on him.
Johnny talks Cordell into it anyway — seems simple: Johnny operates a tailor shop and he believes his partner is reaching into the till. Cordell goes to the shop with Johnny and they find the partners dead body there.
The last thing Cordell wants or needs is to get involved in a homicide. But he is. Johnny is arrested for the murder and Cordell has to clear his buddy’s name and find the real killer. But first he must shave, shower, get a new suit, and look presentable. He doesn’t stop drinking, though. And along the way there are women who throw their bodies at him, more dead bodies, and two-fisted moments in the noir fiction vein.
A fun read, whether you read the Gold Medal or Hard Case version.
Pool Side Pushover opens like great comic slapstick. A young piano moves into an apartment building and is greeted by his new neighbors, most who are sexy single girls who make it known they are interested in some action then or later. He just wants to move into his new pad quietly and play his piano alone, but the women and men,, too, keep coming. The mailman informs him that the complex is one big swinger scene with a plethora of wild loose women, woman the mailman has had sex with.
The following chapters, and the whole book, do not live up to promise of this openin; it suffers from jumping around too many characters and all their sexual trysts. Then again, as a newstand one hand book, perhaps this sort of plotless hodgepodge of sex scenes worked.
Those Who Lust by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Leisure Books, 1967) and Those Who Watch by Robert Silverberg (Signet, 1967)Posted in Don Elliott, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags aliens, Leisure Books, New Mexico, sex boat, Signet Books, UFO crash on March 2, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks
Another erotic novel set on a yacht! Kathryn is recently divorced, no easy task as her ex- would not grant her the dissolution at first. To celebrate, she goes out with her lawyer, gets drunk, and winds up sleeping with her lawyer, despite the fact she does not like him or find him attractive. Then an old flame from her teen years shows up and she sleeps with him too. She walls into the typical “wild divorcee” nude.
She sees an ad, a woman is looking for “ravel companions” on a yacht around the world. The woman, Carla, and her co-hort, is of the idle rich who likes to play sexual games: getting straight woman on the boat and “turning” them in lesbian orgues.
Kathryn is ready for the turn…
Those Who Lust is not a remarkable story, for Don Elliott/Silverberg, but what is apparent is that the prose is more confident and smooth than the 1960-62 Don Elliotts. By 1967, Silvernberg, 12 years now as a professional writer, sharted showing maturity, as evident in his SF during that time.
In fact, an SF book published the same year as Those Who Lust is Those Who Watch, about a UFO crash in New Mexico and aliens who have been keeping their eye on humanity. There is a Kathryn in this one too…
Is she the same Kathyrn? Did Kathryn from Those Who Lust, after her lesbian romp sea voyage,m move to New Mexico and get entangled with aliens?
It’s fun to think so…
This is Samuel R. Delany’s first pornographic novel, written between Nova and Dhalgren, the two SF novels where the sexual content broke the barriers of the genre and shocked and delighted critics and fans.
Delany wrote Equinox (the intended title) in September, 1968 with the intention of publishing it with Los Angeles-nased Essex House, a short-lived imprint of Milton Luros’ successful Brandon House, that was issuing “literary erotica” from the likes of Charles Bukowki, Philip Jose Farmer, Michael Perkins, etc., at the quirky editorial hand of Brian Kirby (later of the Los Angeles Free Press). Packaged as smut, smut readers did not buy these books well within that market and by the time Delany had his manuscript ready, Exxex House was kaput.
Delany didn’t find a publisher until 1973, with Lancer Books, which titled Equinox as The Tides of Lust. Lancer went out of business months later.
Delany write his second porn novel, Hogg, right after, and that one was not published until 1994 with Black Ice Books.
Because of his status as a major Sf writer, The Tides of Lust was reviewed by the mainstream media and met with favorable reviews, despite being ground-breaking in its sexual content with rape, S/M, sexual slavery and pedophillia.
Delany was not afraid to publish porn under his own name, as were other SF writers protective of their present and future careers. Delany was a respected fiction writer and literary/cultural critic, so his publishing hardcore erotic works has always met with strong mixed reactions from fans and critics.
Delany is a lot like George Bataille in that sense: a serious thinker and word master who also explores the dark sexual side of the self and unafraid of public reaction.
Equinox/The Tides of Lust is not as fetish and graphic as Hogg of The Mad Man, Delany’s third porn novel, relying more on dialogue to describe the sexual activity, but it does have its “shocking” elements…
An unnamed African-American captain of a sailing yacht, the Equinox, travels the world with two sexual slaves, a 13 and 15 year old brother and sister whom he “purchased” six years ago to tend to all his sexual needs, and to please guests on board the boat.
When Richard Kasak reprinted the novel in 1994 through his Masquerade Books imprint, the publisher succumbed to the PC pressures against pedophile literature, yet mocking it: they added 100 years to all underage characters, hence the brother and sister sex slaves are 113 and 115. Other minor characters are 106. (Kiddie porn is rampant in Hogg, the narrator is an 11 year old boy, the sex slave of a biker.)
When UK publisher Savoy House published The Tides of Lust, 2,000 copies were seized and destroyed by the British authorities and the publisher was jailed.
Is this a Transgressive Novel? It was at the time, and having read Delany’s other smut novels, Equinox is somewhat tame by comparison.